December 19, 2011

Join in a Christmas Eve tradition

An outdoor meeting. On Dec. 24. In a graveyard.

Are they crazy?

A hardy (and undoubtedly well-insulated) group of Johns Hopkins staff, faculty, alumni and supporters will gather in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery at 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve. They’ll be there to honor the man who made it all possible: Mr. Johns Hopkins.

Hopkins, who is buried at Green Mount, died the morning of Dec. 24, 1873, leaving $7 million in his will to establish the university and hospital that bear his name. It was, to that time, the nation’s largest philanthropic bequest.

“We gather at his grave to remember a great man and a great act of generosity,” said Ross Jones, vice president and secretary emeritus of the university. Jones arranged the first graveside commemoration in 1973, the centennial of Mr. Hopkins’ demise, and has organized similar events annually since 1998, the 125th anniversary.

“What this one man did has meant so much for the world,” Jones said. “More personally, his legacy also means so much to all of us who have had the privilege to work, study or heal at the institutions he founded. It seems only right to set aside a few minutes every Dec. 24 to remember him and thank him.”

The brief, informal ceremony includes remembrances of Mr. Hopkins, the presentation of a wreath and brief remarks. This year, Stephen C. Achuff, a professor of cardiology at the School of Medicine, will highlight aspects of the history of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

To reach the gravesite, enter Green Mount Cemetery at the main gate along Greenmount Avenue, about five blocks south of North Avenue. Drive straight up the hill and park near the crest.

To read Mr. Hopkins’ obituary from the Dec. 25, 1873, edition of The Baltimore Sun, go to